COUNCIL workers on lower level wage grades are set to benefit from a pay boost after councillors agreed to adopt a living wage scheme.

Currently staff at Hambleton District Council are paid above the national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour, with the lowest paid workers earning £6.51 an hour, and apprentices start at £2.70 per hour and can earn up to £5.08 per hour after nine months.

At a meeting of the authority’s cabinet today (Tuesday, March 19) members voted in favour of introducing a Hambleton living wage of £7.65 – but not to enter into the national campaign which specifies employers must also apply the rates to outside contractors.

The scheme will mainly benefit lower paid leisure staff.

Cabinet member Councillor Peter Wilkinson said although the council is not involved with paying contracted workers as they are not council employees, the council will make the assumption that they will be paid at least in line with minimum wage.

The council has decided not to enter into the national living wage scheme because it must also agree to implement an updated hourly rate set each year and the council would have no control over the level of increase.

The scheme will be financed from an additional salary budget which was intended to fund a two per cent pay increase that was rejected by the workers’ union because of other conditions tied to the offer.

Coun Wilkinson said: “The Hambleton Living Wage could take the form of a supplementary payment to those employees currently on pay grade four or below.

“The benefits of this approach would be that it demonstrates the council’s commitment to helping lower paid employees without signing up to the constraints of the national campaign.”

Coun John Prest raised concerns that if two possible contractors came to the council in a tender process, one might be favoured over the other only on the grounds that one paid its staff living wage.

The council’s chief executive Philip Morton said: “It is up to the council what you do with contracts and what conditions you impose.

“I think it’s the right thing to do to pay the living wage to our employees.”

Leader of the council Mark Robson added: “This is a prime example of this authority looking after its staff.”

Cabinet members voted in favour of adopting the living wage and will see it set for April 1.